Statement from Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick
13 May 2021
Statement from Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick in response to emergency housing update
The first actions announced today by Minister Woods and Minister Sepuloni are a great start.
I called for the Government to focus its attention on Rotorua and to have a presence here on the ground because of the untenable situation of mothers and children living in motels. That was the burning platform to get a priority focus for our district.
These first steps are the building blocks to addressing the long-term housing pipeline challenges that we need to solve here in Rotorua and I will continue to strongly advocate and work with the Government to gain those solutions for our community.
I was in contact with Minister Woods last night and she has assured me that we will continue to work on Rotorua solutions together. The work we are doing with the Taskforce has enabled us to get Government attention and now the process has begun to get control over the previously ad hoc arrangement with motels.
Everybody agrees that the current motel type accommodation is not the long-term solution for housing. We need safe, suitable homes for people, for whānau, and that is what we need to really focus on from here.
I will continue to advocate for Rotorua and the best interests of our community by working with the Government. Working in partnership has been and will remain the way to get this done.
Hon Megan Woods
Minister of Housing
Minister of Social Development
13 May 2021
Rotorua Emergency Housing update
The Government has announced a suite of changes to emergency housing provision in Rotorua:
- Government to directly contract motels for emergency accommodation
- Wrap around social support services for those in emergency accommodation to be provided
- Grouping of cohorts like families and tamariki in particular motels separate from other groups
- One-stop Housing Hub for access to services and support to be established
The Government will directly contract motels in Rotorua to deliver emergency housing, making it easier for wrap-around support services to be delivered to whanau and tamariki living in motels.
A taskforce from central government has been working with the Rotorua Lakes District Council and Te Arawa iwi to provide better support and outcomes for people living in emergency housing motels and the community.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking over responsibility for contracting motels used for emergency housing, and ending the practice of mixed use motels.
These moves will ensure whanau and tamariki are placed in accommodation with facilities better suited to their needs with support to keep them safe and well, and provide a pathway to more permanent housing, Housing Minister Megan Woods said.
These actions also help bring certainty to the Rotorua accommodation sector by having motels used exclusively for emergency housing, and help ensure there is separate suitable accommodation facilities for domestic and international visitors.
Central government agencies have worked with council, iwi and NGOs to find solutions and we are investigating how this approach could support better outcomes in other areas with high levels of emergency housing.
We do not see motels as a long-term answer for housing, but we need to deal with the immediate crisis we inherited while we build the medium to long term solutions by increasing housing supply, Megan Woods said.
HUD and Kāinga Ora are assessing which of the current motels being used for emergency housing in Rotorua have facilities suitable for emergency housing for whanau and tamariki. HUD is talking with suitable motels this week about contracts for emergency housing.
Rotorua Lakes Council will help ensure any applications for changes to consents to permit longer term stays in motels are processed efficiently. It will take several weeks to assess and engage all motels.
The Ministry of Social Development and HUD are working with Te Arawa and service providers to establish a Housing Hub, including contracting for wrap around support services for whanau and tamariki in motels. The Hub will be up and running in the coming months.
Once established the Housing Hub will be community led, and will provide a place where people needing emergency housing can also have their holistic care needs assessed and addressed, with placements triaged into appropriate accommodation, Social Development Minister, Carmel Sepuloni said.
Emergency housing is meant to be temporary solution for people who are unable to find accommodation but because of the housing shortage we inherited, some people are staying in motels longer. We are committed to supporting them and helping them find a long term, sustainable solution, Carmel Sepuloni said.
More supply is critical to addressing housing in the long term and progress is being made. Kāinga Ora is working to deliver around 190 additional public houses in Rotorua by 2024 under the Public Housing Plan.
Kāinga Ora is also intensifying its efforts in Rotorua to identify opportunities for building new housing to provide more permanent homes.